Petrolia’s day care push results in new spaces, inspections of some home providers

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It appears Petrolia’s move to drop home business licensing fees for people providing day care has made some impact.

The town, like most communities in Canada, does not have nearly enough licenced day care providers. Parents went to council in the spring saying there are 340 children in the town who are day care age but only 85 licenced spots.

A new federal/provincial program will create 67 new spaces in the town, but the advocates say that will only provide licensed day care for a quarter of the children in Petrolia.

At the request of the parent group, the town researched setting up its own municipally run day care facility, but found it would be upwards of $5 million to build.

Instead, Deputy Clerk Jessica Smith recommended “council waive the $250 Home Occupation Business Licence fee and the Petrolia portion of the fire inspection fee for a period of one year. This would apply to applicants interested in obtaining a Home Occupation Business Licence for a home-based child care operation only. It is our hope that this will remove a barrier and provide incentive to those currently operating without a Home Occupation Business Licence to obtain one,” she wrote noting to obtain the license, operators have to have an inspection by the fire department building officials and public health.

Council agreed to the move in April.

Monday, Smith said five day care providers have already taken advantage of the offer. Three were existing day cares and two were new operations.

Smith says that means that at least 10 new spaces were created since April. She told The Independent each of the new operators said they had a full roster of clients before they opened for business.

And she’s pleased five home day cares have now been inspected by the fire department, building officials and public health to “ensure they are safe for the public to occupy.”

While the concerns about lack of day care spaces in the community are long standing, the push for more licensed day care came after a young child fell into a pool while at day care in Petrolia. The little boy was revived but still has health problems. His family launched a lawsuit and OPP laid charges against the day care provider.

The case is still in court.